Doctors warn of health risks in withdrawal from Paris climate accord

The decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to withdraw from the Paris climate accord is drawing opposition from health organizations.

“I find it unconscionable that the world’s number one historic greenhouse gas emitter is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, and make no mistake, climate change is a huge threat to public health,” said Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Under the Paris accord, the United States pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Patz said the threats to public health caused by global warming include respiratory problems caused by air pollution and diseases spread by insects.

“Where we have mosquito-borne disease, like malaria for example, with an increase in temperature we’re seeing the disease creeping up in altitude. We’re seeing ticks in the Midwest that are moving northward. The lone star tick is moving northward and that carries ehrlichiosis, which is a very serious disease,” Patz said.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2012 seven million people died prematurely from air pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion; 200,000 of those deaths occurred in the United States.

“So the shift from dirty energy to clean energy, low carbon energy has an immediate health benefit,” Patz said.

Several other health organizations have also voiced their opposition to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord.

Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in a statement that, “Today’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement puts President Trump on the wrong side of history. Climate change is already harming the health of people in the United States and worldwide through degraded air quality, heat waves, droughts, extreme storms, disease outbreaks and more. Unchecked climate change is a global health crisis that threatens to reverse decades of health gains worldwide, with serious consequences for our children and generations to come.”